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Over the Front in an Aeroplane and Scenes Inside t

We returned by a different trench


We

returned by a different trench, so that we did not have to repeat the acrobatic feat over the telephone wire. But we had a little excitement to make up for it, for, as I splashed along with a most intense crick in my bent back, one of the German projectiles, which was apparently running on perfect schedule along its overhead rails on its way toward the Belgian artillery, suddenly jumped the track and came hissing down toward us.

Simultaneously with the crash of the explosion I saw the men ahead of me passionately hugging the bottom of the trench, and I found myself on my knees and elbows, not a whit behind them in my devotion.

"That was a close one," said Captain L----.

"What was it--a 75?" I asked.

"Seventy-five nothing," he replied; "that was a 150 millimetre, and it exploded within thirty metres of your head. There--see for yourself. If we had not been in the trench that would have caught us nicely!"

I peeped over the edge of the trench and there, sure enough, was a big cloud of sooty black smoke wallowing up from behind some broken masonry not more than thirty yards off.

"Filons!" ("Let us beat it!") said the Commandant tersely, and we did.

VIII

LESSONS

justify;"> The great lesson that a visit to England, France and what remains of Belgium to-day will teach any one who is willing to be taught by hard facts and not by wistful visions is that peace in the near future is quite impossible. For the only peace, in the conviction of the Allies, that will end this war is a peace neither of conciliation nor of compromise, but a peace whose terms are arbitrarily imposed by one side and of necessity submitted to by the other.

That is the end to which the Allies are determined to fight, whether that end is achieved by the more merciful method of decisive military victory or must be gained by the more terrible pressure of complete financial, industrial and economic prostration.

Any attempt to abort this object by mediatory proposals, whether Pontifical or Presidential, the Allies frankly declare they would consider an inopportune impertinence.

I have had the privilege of studying the spirit of the English, the French and the Belgians at a time when that spirit was being severely tested--when their fortunes were at their lowest ebb since the days just before the battle of the Marne. Their spring advance had utterly failed to materialize; throughout the summer they had been held in almost complete check by the Germans' depleted line. The Dardanelles had turned out to be a slaughter-house, with success appearing more and more precarious, and the only alternative to success seeming to be disaster.

The starvation of Germany had become a conceded impossibility. Her dearth of rubber, copper, cotton, etc., had assumed more and more the nature of a superable handicap rather than a decisive crippling. Her financial situation had already made fools of so many economic seers that they had become less and less didactic regarding her impending bankruptcy.

The practical success of allied diplomacy among the Balkan neutrals had grown to seem more and more dubious.


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